Monday| June 12, 2017
It's not going to be easy for advocates of the restoration of capital punishment in the country — as deliberations begin on the proposed bill seeking to reimpose the death penalty, there are signs that lawmakers and government officials are divided on the issue. This was evident in the Senate's first hearing on the proposed measure on Tuesday.
In an interview with Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights chairman Richard Gordon, he said only 10 among 24 senators are in favor of the restoration of death penalty — so far.
In his speech, bill author Sen. Manny Pacquiao said, the country is facing immense challenges from drug trafficking and drug abuse — and that "the problem has grown into emergency situation that now merits urgent action."
Pacquiao pointed out, the Constitution itself gives legislature the authority to allow the revival of the death penalty.
"Unless for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the congress shall act or provide for it," Pacquiao said citing constitutional provision on death penalty.
"It is of my humble opinion that our current problem over heinous crimes related to the trafficking and abuse of dangerous drugs falls within the bounds of this constitutional limitation."
Pacquiao added, it is imperative for lawmakers to determine what heinous crimes are punishable by death penalty.
"To bundle mini-crimes will dilute arguments and complicate definitions in determining whether a particular crime is heinous or not because the offensive acts may be of different characters," Pacquiao said.
"We cannot allow the compelling nature of imposing death penalty on drug trafficking to be weighed down by less compelling reasons for other offenses."
"We have to take a firm stand against drug traffickers. On a personal level, I can forgive. However, the heinous crime of drug trafficking is committed not just against a person but against the nation," he added.
As early as now, some senators have already expressed that they are against the proposed measure.
Sen. Leila De Lima said "Death penalty is wrong — on legal, moral, ethical, and constitutional grounds."
While Sen. Riza Hontiveros said capital punishment has a disproportionate impact on the poor.
"On such a flawed and biased justice system that we still have, there is little guarantee that innocent people would not be sentenced to death," Hontiveros said.
"Pinapipili nila tayo [They are making us choose] between extrajudicial killing and judicial killing… Katulad ng extrajudicial killings, ang kaya lamang nito patayin ay ang mga mahihirap," she added. [Like extrajudicial killings, it can only kill the poor.]
Hontiveros also said death penalty "is a cruel and inhuman form of punishment that gives up on the rehabilitative purpose of the justice system."
Meanwhile, Sen. Sotto said he is willing to forego of other crimes included in his proposed measure, and focus only on high-level drug trafficking or manufacturing.
He said, with this, the "anti-poor card will not fly."
"There is no drug lord na mahirap. Lahat ng drug lords mayaman," Sotto said. [There is no poor drug lord. All drug lords are wealthy.]
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SOURCE: YOUTUBE, CNN